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In playoff prep, Clevinger impresses as reliever

Righty pitches in consecutive games, preparing to be multi-inning 'weapon' in postseason
MLB.com @MLBastian

CLEVELAND -- Mike Clevinger has admitted that he was mentally preparing to start in the postseason before the Indians informed him that he would be moving to the bullpen as a multi-inning option. The right-hander also said that there is nothing quite like the adrenaline rush that goes hand in hand with being a reliever.

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CLEVELAND -- Mike Clevinger has admitted that he was mentally preparing to start in the postseason before the Indians informed him that he would be moving to the bullpen as a multi-inning option. The right-hander also said that there is nothing quite like the adrenaline rush that goes hand in hand with being a reliever.

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That was the case again on Wednesday night.

"Oh yeah," Clevinger said with a smile. "It's almost like every pitch is the first pitch of the game."

During Wednesday's 4-2 win over the Twins, Indians manager Terry Francona handed the ball to Clevinger with two outs in the fifth. The appearance was a two-part test for the pitcher. First and foremost, it marked the first time in Clevinger's career that he appeared in consecutive games. Beyond that, it was a chance for the righty to work a multi-inning outing under those circumstances.

Clevinger allowed a double to Chris Gimenez to begin his appearance, but then he retired the next four batters he faced across the fifth and sixth innings.

"I thought Clev was good -- real good," Francona said. "And he stayed on the plate better. He held his stuff from night to night, because he hasn't been doing that much, because he's been starting. So that was good to see, too."

To that end, Clevinger averaged 93.9 mph on his fastball during Wednesday's game after posting 94.1 mph with his heater on Tuesday against the Twins. For comparison, Clevinger averaged 92.4 mph with that pitch across his 21 starts this season. That increase in velocity is one reason the Indians like the potential of using Clevinger as a "weapon" out of the bullpen, as Francona has repeatedly phrased it.

During the American League Division Series presented by Doosan, the plan is to have Clevinger help bridge the gap to Cleveland's late-inning arms. Being able to work multiple innings and pitch in consecutive games is important for that type of job.

Clevinger is happy with the early returns.

"I was pretty pleased with how my body held up," Clevinger said of pitching in two straight games. "That was definitely a thing that they wanted to see, and I was actually curious to see just exactly how it's going to maintain from back-to-back days. It seems like it passed the test -- my body did, at least. We'll see how it goes from there."

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cleveland Indians, Mike Clevinger